Discoveries Monument

Visitor's Guide

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon

The national heroes of the "Age of Discovery" being led by Prince Henry the Navigator

Originally a temporary structure honoring Prince Henry the Navigator (who died exactly 500 years earlier) and glorifying the feats of Portuguese explorers for the propagandistic 1940 “Portuguese World Exhibition,” this monument was rebuilt in concrete and limestone in 1960 to stand as a reminder of the “Age of Discovery.”

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

The Discoveries Monument is one of Lisbon's main landmarks

It’s shaped like a ship, with 32 figures lined up on a stylized prow, representing personalities from the 15th and 16th centuries following Prince Henry -- only one of them is a woman, Queen Filipa de Lencastre, who was Prince Henry’s mother.

Explorers on the monument, Lisbon

There are sculptures on both sides of the monument

The prince is the tallest figure, measuring 9 meters (26 feet), while those behind him are 7 meters (23 feet) tall. The entire monument is 56 meters (184 feet) tall, 20 meters (66 ft) wide, and 46 meters (151 feet) long. It stands on the waterfront, close to the Belém Tower, from where many of the explorers’ ships departed for their voyages.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos vista, Lisbon

View of the Jerónimos Monastery from the top of the Discoveries Monument

Inside is an auditorium (which presents a 47-minute video about the monument every day at 3:30pm) and space for temporary exhibitions. An elevator takes visitors to the terrace at the top, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the river and the monuments of Belém, and of the map of the world on the pavement below. That marble map is inside a 50-meter(164 feet)-wide compass rose, and was a gift from the nation of South Africa, recalling Portugal’s rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, which led to a new sea route to the East. The map shows the routes and dates of the Portuguese voyages, which essentially covered the entire globe. Surrounding the map and the compass rose is a traditional Portuguese wave-patterned cobblestone pavement.

Map of the world on the pavement by the Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

Map of the world on the pavement, showing the routes of the Portuguese explorers

The personalities sculpted on the monument are:

Eastern Side:
- Afonso de Albuquerque - Governor of Portuguese India
- Bartolomeu Dias - First to sail beyond the southern tip of Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope.
- Diogo Cão - First to reach the Congo
- Francis Xavier - Missionary in Asia
- Martim Afonso de Sousa - The first Royal Governor of Brazil
- Vasco da Gama - Discoverer of the sea route to India
- Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia - Explorer and one of the first settlers of the Azores
- Cristóvão da Gama - Explorer and Vasco da Gama's son
- Estêvão da Gama - Explorer and Vasco da Gama's son
- Gaspar Corte-real - Discoverer of Greenland
- Nicolau Coelho - Explorer who accompanied Vasco da Gama and Cabral
- António de Abreu - First to reach the Moluccas, Timor and possibly Australia.
- King Afonso V - King from 1438 to 1481
- Ferdinand Magellan - The first explorer to circumnavigate the Earth
- João de Barros - Writer and historian
- Pedro Álvares Cabral - Discoverer of Brazil

Western Side:
- Queen Filipa de Lencastre - Mother of Prince Henry the Navigator
- Frei Henrique de Coimbra - Accompanied Pedro Alvares Cabral, and celebrated the first Mass in Brazil.
- Infante D. Fernando - Prince Henry the Navigator's brother
- Jácome de Maiorca - Cartographer
- Nuno Gonçalves - Painter
- Pêro de Alenquer - Piloted the ship S. Gabriel, captained by Vasco da Gama, when traveling to India.
- Fernão Mendes Pinto - Writer
- Gil Eanes - The first to sail beyond Cape Bojador
- João Gonçalves Zarco - Settler of the Madeira islands
- Pedro Nunes - Mathematician
- Pêro de Escobar - Discoverer of São Tomé islands
- Frei Gonçalo de Carvalho - Missionary in India
- Gomes Eanes de Zurara - Chronicler
- Infante D. Pedro - Prince Henry the Navigator's brother
- Luís Vaz de Camões - Poet, author of "The Lusiads."
- Pêro da Covilhã - Diplomat in Asia

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon

There is just one woman on the monument, Queen Filipa de Lencastre, the mother of Prince Henry the Navigator

How to Get to the Discoveries Monument

The Discoveries Monument is located directly across the road from the Jerónimos Monastery, reached via an underpass. It’s just a short walk from the Belém train station, which can be reached on the Cascais train that departs every 20 minutes from Cais do Sodré Station.
The journey from Cais do Sodré to Belém is just seven minutes. You may also take bus 714 or tram 15 from Praça da Figueira downtown, but note that the bus and tram are much slower and much more crowded than the train. You may ride the train, trams and buses for free with the Lisboa Card.

Avenida Brasília, Belém

Admission and Tickets to the Discoveries Monument

Admission to the exhibitions, film and terrace is €6.00. Just for the exhibitions it’s €3.00. There’s a 20% discount with the Lisboa Card.

It's closed on Mondays between October and February

Attractions Nearby

The Belém Tower is a short walk down the waterfront, while the Jeronimos Monastery is right across the road (via an underpass).

Where to Stay by the Discoveries Monument

Altis Belém Hotel, Lisbon

Altis Belém Hotel

If you want to stay on the waterfront, you can wake up to views of the Discoveries Monument from this hotel. Due to its location, it’s inspired by the Age of Discovery, but with a contemporary design. It has two restaurants (one of them distinguished with a Michelin star) and a bar with a terrace facing the river, plus a pool and spa on the rooftop, facing the Discoveries Monument.

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